Farewell Letter Says Volumes About School Board’s Shortcomings


James Stokes’ farewell letter, which he sent when he dropped out of consideration for the job of  the School Board’s general counsel, says it all.

Stokes appears way too polite to throw brickbats.  However, for a government lawyer, the letter is pointed and it is easy to read between the lines.

It is obvious that the employment contract negotiations with current General Counsel Ed Marko were both insulting to Stokes and prompted him to walk away from the job.

Stokes writes that he was told Superintendent James Notter was “held in special regard” while the general counsel was just another employee. 

Nice. Insult the guy before he even starts.

Then Stokes was “made to feel underqualified” because he didn’t have experience in education law, although the School Board didn’t require it in its ad.  

The problem, as I stated in the previous post, is that Marko really doesn’t want to leave.  Apparently 42 years isn’t long enough!

Yet Marko was the one appointed by the Board to negotiated a contract with Stokes. That’s ridiculous, considering Marko had every motive to sabotage the process.  

This is clearly the School Board’s fault. 

Only the disfunctional Broward Board would allow an employee who didn’t want to leave negotiate with his replacement.

It is also highly insulting to any newcomer to allow Marko to stay an extra year.   

The School Board needs to get control of their own attorney and hiring their next attorney…now.  

There is no reason to waste more time.  I could have hired a dozen attorneys in the time this has taken.

Board members are being played by their attorney.  They need to Man Up and grab the reins. 

No more excuses.

Here is the letter.  Click to enlarge. You decide:

29 Responses to “Farewell Letter Says Volumes About School Board’s Shortcomings”

  1. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    What a giant mistake this has been to allow Marko to have anything to do with salary talks with his replacement and I simply am surprised that Mrs. Gottleib went along with this.

    It truly saddens me that one man can create such controversy year after year and few Board members seem to graps the impatience and aggravation that public has with this kind of behavior.

    If Ihear one more Board member say the “public doesn’t understand” one more time…..I think I will just scream . LOL

    It makes you want just shout “what is wrong with you people!”

  2. Marko must go says:

    Buddy, you are absolutely right. This was a collossal blunder on the part of those Board members who are afraid to face up to Marko and say it is time to go.

    They need to NOT extend him for another year, let his contract run out, appoint an interim and have the search without Marko’s fingers being anywhere near this. As long as Marko is still involved, no qualified attorney will even apply for this job. They all knew that he was not leaving last year.

    Only by cutting Marko out will send a message that the Board is desirous of hiring a new attorney, and that is badly needed. Where was the wise counsel that allowed all the mess in the construction projects that we are seeing now?

  3. Just Think says:

    It takes a whole lot to get a lawyer with 15 years of government experience to write so candid a letter. They really must have pissed him off. Apparently he wasn’t about to be Marko’s beard or puppet. I say good for him. He should go seek work in a more honorable agency. There is nothing so special about Ed Marko or the education laws that a regular lawyer can’t handle. Get rid of Ed Marko and watch this process get easier.

  4. Broward Cleansweep says:

    Guess who doesn’t like Marko???

  5. Pineystride says:

    Marko needs to be taken OUT of the equation.

  6. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    Please do not mischaracterize my feelings about anyone Broomie.

  7. Hammerhead says:

    Read my lips…Notter, Marko and the whole group of cronies has to go. The curtain has been pulled back just a little and even the old guard is now expressing disgust. As we get closer and closer to arrests and indictments, others will choose to associate with the “good guys” and denounce the “bad guys”. That is how they keep away from the stain of shame. Unfortunately, the tell tale signs have already been spotted, so good luck with the “victim” defense now.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The new board members need to do a surgical review of the personnel decisions on which HR has signed off, including the decision to hire the current head of HR and all of the BTU/TSP bumping. Any promoted crony of Bob Parks must be re-examined. If they choose, the incoming board members can look at the HR moves after more arrests and indictments but they are coming and a vision impaired person can see that.

    The new board members need to look at how much money the district is bleeding out on a daily basis by way of bogus contracts with friendly and sometimes family vendors. I clean sweep of the charter schools is in order, wink wink.

    Purchasing issues have to be looked at too. The district is paying $4 per gidget when they should only cost $1 per gidget. This often includes going to vendors other than those who were awarded the contracts for those goods.

    Look at the letter from the would be attorney. He has exposed the “special” deal that Notter has and how the board has given Marko full authority to stonewall the would be attorney during negotiations. That whole thing was done by design. So not only did the board and Notter intend to give Marko a $266k gift to be a drill Sgt. emeritus, they also paid a lot of money and wasted a lot of prospective candidates’ time in the sham search for a new general counsel. That is called an “intangable” expense that most forget about. (think of all of the sham consultant recommendations that we paid for with the same ill conceived plan)

    Every agenda item should be open for discussion and require the board members to disclose the rationale for their vote on all items that authorize spending money. Hold them accountable once and for all.

  8. Git R Done says:

    This is really CRAZY… afterall, there are other Lawyers who work for the School Board/District as well, what about them?
    Vignola is one of them and is very good. Why not hire him.
    Can’t the School Board make a decent decision anymore? Geez, they’re so lame at their jobs.

  9. Amazing Karnack says:

    Karnack says OMG what did I just hear, look at this from Jeanne Jusevic on another post.
    “It is time to let Marko’s contract expire and allow one of the current attorney’s take over on an interim basis. Who knows they may find a jewel like they did when promoting Tom Linder.” Karnack says OK 50% is better than nothing but comparing finding Sailor Squid to finding a jewel is like being happy waking up one morning to find you have external hemorrhoids. Karnack says they sure itch and burn a lot but at least you have a reason to scratch your ass. Karnack says speaking of scratching your ass does anyone at Facilities ever see the hemorrhoid out of his office.
    Karnack says sorry JJ you can’t pull the bait and switch on us anymore by selling out one facilitator like Marko Polo to make the next one in line look good. Karnack says the Sailor has embarrassed himself all over town and now the word is he has started to circulate his resume around the country. Karnack says he too will leave as the train gathers riders.
    Karnack says JJ please consider your friends more wisely. Karnack says just because they tell you that you are pretty doesn’t mean they have your best interest at heart. Karnack says look around at what is happening to all of those who sit at or near the top. Karnack foretold that the puppet show would unravel. Karnack says you don’t sit at or near the top unless you are willing to sell your soul. Karnack says look closely as Hammerhead stated the curtain has been pulled back. Karnack says behold the unsightly beast. Karnack says you can’t irrationally rationalize the facts anymore. Karnack says the facts are the puppets and their facilitators have made a mockery out of this District. Karnack says that train has left the station. Karnack says the train goes clickity clack, clickity clack, clickity clack.

  10. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    Karank, you have no idea what you aew taling about. SAtop drinking other people’s kool aid. If you know anything about me,which you clearly do not, you know I have been of the opinion that Marko needed to go for about 5 years. I have talked about this publicly apparently you just not in the room.

    You guys are really and truly delusional.

  11. Amazing Karnack says:

    Karnack says OK JJ the sailor is a jewel and I am dilusional. Karnack says that tells us pretty much all we need to know.

  12. CoCo Kreak says:

    Mr.Stokes is obviously too qualified and too bright to work with this outfit. Duh? Marko knows where the bodies are buried, he held the spade. And Notter needs to keep him happy. Notter, who has either been the biggest co-conspirator or the most incompetent manager in the world needs to go for either or both of these possibilities. A complete change needs to happen, NOW! Please, let’s hope the “new Board” has the courage to do what needs to be done, or the whole Titanic will plop on the bottom of the cold sea..
    PS: JJ.. you really ought to watch that grammar and spelling, or put the wine aside when writing. You have some good things to say, sometimes, but presentation is everything! 🙂 And… don’t hang your future on Jimmy, would be a major mistake.

  13. Hammerhead says:

    Call it whatever you want to call it, but it is a broken system that starts and ends with no leadership and poor excuses for professionals. The historical response is for the machine to offer up a sacrifice or two, but this time that is not enough. The sacrifice that was offered up this summer included a bunch of low level non-decision making project managers and supervisors. It was not only a meager offering, it only highlighted the bad leadership and solidified the need for change in the board and their highest level administrators. Notice that the word administrators is plural. There are many who need to go in lieu of the standard sacrifice. The place needs a high colonic. It starts with the current chair of the board and Notter and stops when the current machinistas no longer have a seat at the table which was intended to seat the “children”.

    Come on JJ. Have we been following the same bouncing ball here? I don’t think we have. If your boy is a jewel, the you are a jewel in denial.

  14. Another slick move about to happen says:

    The CC-4 agenda item creating the “emeritus” position for Marko is still up on the school board agenda for November 9. That item needs to be withdrawn before the school board meeting.

  15. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    Kreak, your right I have to stop posting in the dark and without my glasses. 🙂

    I suppose my frustration is this: there are a lot of arm chair quarter backs here that aren’t around to do the heavy lifting.

    Where exactly was everyone when Frank Till was leading the Board down the corrupt path it now finds itself in? Almost all pickles the current Board finds itself in have emerged during Frank Till’s tenure.
    The economy tanking, the State failing to fund education adequately and the ridiculous amount of money that the State has spent on the awful Jeb Bush plan for education has all converge to set the stage for mediocrisy.

    Add to this a complancent School Board and some corrupt members, untrained personnel and a District more interested in setting policy for what is easier for schools than what is best for kids and you have a good School District at a critical crossroads. That is where we are at right now.

    My hope is that the four Board members will wake up the remaining Board members to a couple of facts:

    1. The bunker mentality has served no one well so wake and take action!
    2. That stakeholder involvement has diminished despite all of the ative parents best efforts to engage others. ( Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be the only parent in the room with 15 staff members who often dismiss parents concerns? Or Union stewarts on committtess that could careless about kids and only want to protect the status quo for teachers)
    3. Transparency is a good thing. The more open processes are the better.
    4. Yes, there are some staff that need to lead reform or move aside for those that want to change the way things are handled in the District.
    5. Focus on what can be done, what can be changed, how we can effectively use our resources for these education of our children.

    These are things that I have been quietly talking about and not so quietly talking about for years, Anyone who knows me and has sat in meetings with me know that.

    My future BTW isn’t dependent on anyone. Notter didn’t choose me the advisory parents did. I was elected to my current position by my group, which has more new parents in the group than every before.

    And for the record: Until recent attacks on my character and such, DAC has been doing what it can to make the system a better place. I am involved, I just don’t sit on the sidelines and bitch like most of you.

    How about getting involved and helping.

  16. get real says:

    we are lucky this guy (Stokes) withdrew. He would have fit in perfectly…already fingerpointing and backstabbing before he even starts. They should ban him from all future Broward County jobs for bad attitude.

  17. Floridan says:

    Have to agree with “get real”.

  18. FactSayer says:

    Hey, Real & Flor: Please don’t be mad at Stokes. All he did was tell the truth. Stokes just wanted the same perks Notter and Marko are getting, can you really blame him?

  19. Pineystride says:

    Problem is, under FL Stat’s, the Supe’s job IS given a special status, a supe is required to be appointed by fl law. FL stat’s don’t provide for the appt of any atty, the atty is legally simply another employee of the board. So while Stokes may have a philosophical, marko is technically correct.

  20. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    There are elected superintendents in the State of Florida. Not many but there are some.

    It was disappointing to watch the School Board use a rationale that c-4 was only the “job description” not the job itself. I was happy to see Robin stick to her position. If I hear one more time at a Board member say the public isn’t aware, or doesn’t understand I think I”ll scream.

    I find a real disconnet, as many here do, between the Board and the public. Time to insist on quarterly meetings with Board member in their Districts.

  21. Pineystride says:

    JJ: per state statute the soup must either be elected or appted. the point is that the education code requires the sb to have a soup, it does not require that it have an atty. arguably, then the soup is given special status under the law, while the atty is merely an employee.

  22. Nick Sakhnovsky says:

    I agree that many members of the public are paying attention. One little correction, though: In fact, 39 of the 67 county-wide school districts elect their superintendents (a majority), but the majority of Florida public students go to school in districts with appointed superintendents, since the large districts tend to appoint thier superintendents. See:

  23. Broward Cleansweep says:

    Yes JJ, the parents “elected” you to your position. But someone appointed you first…who?

  24. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    No one appointed me. I was elected to DAC from the North Area Advisory. I was elected to the North Area Advisory by being elected SAF chair from one of my children’s schools. Like I said before Corey, you have no understanding of who sits at DAC and how they arrive there.

  25. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    According to State law as interpretated by Mr. Marko the School Board hires and fires two people. The superintendent and the school board attorney. The recommendations brought to the school board under the G items, the Board has to approve must be approved as recommendation by the Superintendent. Crazy, but that is what the Board attorney to the School Board over the Bob Crawford controversry. ( I think it was him)

  26. Corey Whiner says:

    Jeanne, you’ve done a great job and your community knows it. Don’t pay any mind to the grown “achiever” whose credibility is non-existent

  27. Broward Cleansweep says:

    While I don’t mind saying hello to Corey’s grandmother, you are wrong as usual. Weren’t you recording secretary at some point? How did that come about?

  28. CoCo Kreak says:

    ONE LAST TIME: PROOFREAD YOUR POSTS! This is about education for God’s Sake! The Grammar in this section is Level ONE FCAT!
    PS: SAF/SAC/DAC represent the 0.2 % of parents who actually care about the District’s actions.
    These groups are just patronized by Principals & the Area Supt., the Board and especially that sad miniature man, Notter.

  29. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    CoCoKreak in some cases you are right and in some cases you are wrong. DAC is no one’s puppet. It hasn’t been for at least 3 years. You would, of course, know that if you were currently involved at the school level or the district level.
    We both know you are not.

    Broward CleanSweep: Once again, I arrived to the DAC as an elected member of the North Area Advisory delegation. Yes I served as recording secretary. I have never, let me repeat that again, ever been appointed to DAC. You should really read the DAC by-laws membership section again. There are only 9 Board appointments out of a possible 40+ membership.

    Thanks Nick for the info. I appreciate being educated. 🙂

    Back to the topic. Sitting in the Board room listening to the silly arguments in support of the retirement position for Mr. Marko, I had to shake my head. I simply do not understand why this particular item could not have been defered. There was no real rationale for passing it.